The Oakland Athletics' 1997 season was the team's 30th in Oakland, California. It was also the 97th season in franchise history. The team finished fourth in the American League West with a record of 65-97.
The Athletics, coming off a surprising (if still mediocre) 78-84 campaign, hoped to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1992. With this in mind, the team traded for slugger Jose Canseco. Canseco, who had played for the Athletics from 1985 to 1992, was reunited with fellow superstar (and fellow "Bash Brother") Mark McGwire. In addition to McGwire and Canseco, Oakland's impressive collection of power hitters included Jason Giambi, Gerónimo Berroa, and Matt Stairs.
Little was done, however, to shore up the Athletics' abysmal 1996 pitching staff. Ariel Prieto, owner of a 4.41 career ERA (Earned Run Average), was named the Opening Day starter; a succession of poorly regarded players filled out the rest of the starting rotation and bullpen. While optimism remained high for the team's offense, great concern remained for its pitching staff.
In the end, Oakland's offense and pitching both fared terribly. For the second consecutive year, no Athletics pitcher won ten or more games; even worse, no starter won more than six. None of the team's top four starters (Ariel Prieto, Steve Karsay, Mike Oquist, and Dave Telgheder) finished the season with an ERA of less than 5.00; the Athletics, as a team, finished with an earned run average of 5.48 (easily the MLB's worst). All told, the A's allowed a season total of 946 runs. This remains the worst such figure in Oakland history.
More puzzling was the fate of the offense. Oakland, as expected, remained one of the league's best power-hitting teams. The Athletics' sluggers hit a total of 197 home runs (third-most in the American League). Oakland's home runs failed to generate much offense, however, as a low team batting average negated most of the team's other advantages. Oakland scored a total of 764 runs in 1997 (the 11th highest total in the American League).
These awful performances quickly removed the A's from contention. On May 31, they were already nine games out of first place; their position steadily worsened throughout the summer. In light of this, General Manager Sandy Alderson traded Mark McGwire (who, at the time, was on pace to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record) to the St. Louis Cardinals for T.J. Matthews, Blake Stein, and Eric Ludwick. McGwire would finish the season with 58 home runs (four shy of breaking the record). The trade was a disaster on the Athletics' end, as none of the three players received in the trade remained on the team by 2000. The A's ultimately finished twenty-five games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners. Their 65-97 finish (the club's worst since 1979) led to the removal of Sandy Alderson as General Manager on October 17; he was replaced by Billy Beane. Manager Art Howe, however, was retained for the 1998 season.
The 1997 season would ultimately prove to be the Athletics' nadir. The continued rise of Jason Giambi, the debuts of Ben Grieve and Miguel Tejada, the acquisition of Tim Hudson in the 1997 MLB draft, and the ascension of Billy Beane to the position of general manager paved the way for a lengthy period of success from 1999 onwards.
|1997 Oakland Athletics|
|Major League affiliations|
|Owner(s)||Stephen Schott |
|General manager(s)||Sandy Alderson|
Sports Channel Pacific
(Ray Fosse, Greg Papa, Ken Wilson)
(Bill King, Ken Korach, Ray Fosse)
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1997 American League Records
Sources:              
|1997 Oakland Athletics|
|= Indicates team leader|
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; SB = Stolen Bases
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; SB = Stolen Bases
Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; BB = Bases on Balls; SO = Strikeouts
Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
|AAA||Edmonton Trappers||Pacific Coast League||Gary Jones|
|AA||Huntsville Stars||Southern League||Mike Quade|
|A||Modesto A's||California League||Jeffrey Leonard|
|A||Visalia Oaks||California League||Tony DeFrancesco|
|A-Short Season||Southern Oregon Timberjacks||Northwest League||John Kuehl|
|Rookie||AZL Athletics||Arizona League||Juan Navarrette|
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Edmonton
1997 MLB season by team
|AL West Division|
|AL Wild Card (3)|